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San Fernando Valley native Alex Padilla takes on Washington in the Senate

After joining the Senate in January, the junior senator from California set his own goals within the Democratic caucus.

By Matthew Royer, Staff Writer

Two months into his term, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) has brought immigration and citizenship reform to the forefront of the Democratic agenda in Congress.

Appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to finish Vice President Kamala Harris’ term in the U.S. Senate, Padilla will serve for two years until the term expires in January 2023. He previously represented the Valley in the California State Senate and Los Angeles City Council.

Padilla was sworn in by Harris on Jan. 20, alongside Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), becoming the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate, according to the Los Angeles Times. The addition of these three senators gave Democrats control of the Senate for the first time since 2015. Padilla is also the first U.S. senator to hail from the greater-Los Angeles area since John V. Tunney served in the 70s.

Just before being sworn into the Senate, Padilla laid out his goals on his official Twitter account.

“This week will be about celebrating a new administration and a hopeful new day in Washington,” said Padilla. “It will also be about getting to work on effective vaccine distribution, getting our economy and jobs back on track, Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, immigration reform.”

He has made a name for himself in the Capitol fairly quickly, working with his Democratic colleagues to advance a progressive agenda on a plurality of issues. He became the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and introduced the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA), which would overhaul the citizenship process. The act seeks to create opportunities for millions of undocumented immigrants to receive citizenship in an updated and modernized process. Padilla released a statement on his website about the proposed legislation.

“For too long, our immigration system has failed to live up to the ideals and principles our nation was founded on,” read Padilla’s statement. “We must enact bold, robust immigration reform that meets the urgency this moment demands — and that millions of hard-working immigrants have earned.”

Valley College President Barry Gribbons was asked how these actions being taken could shift the student body.

“As the federal government takes action to help support our DACA students, and ideally, provide a pathway to citizenship, that will be beneficial to our DACA and undocumented students,” said Gribbons. “So we look forward to the federal government taking action in support of our DACA and undocumented students.”

With two years left on his term, the San Fernando High School alum has already filed with the Federal Election Commission for the 2022 federal election, which would be his first full term.

Padilla is currently not facing any serious challengers from either major political party.

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